Playing Catch-up!

It's been a busy time since Christmas.

All parts of the new project are under way. Links with external collaborators have been established and work is in progress. Still managing the internal university processes - and now they have decided I shouldn't be supervising a masters student! Nothing surprises me any more, especially since I have been supervising him for four months.

The Library Team have finished all their student focus groups which are exploring students as discovers and users of OER. The Widening Participation Team - including Angela and Jacqui are taking OERs out into schools in Leicester. Mark is working with local schools and his own forensic colleagues to release a wide range of materials including a forensic photo gallery onto the web.

I'm working with Oxford University Press and thanks to our microbiology staff we have some resources ready to release to support a series of OUP text books.

Behind the scenes the technical team are honing our SEO knowledge and having to keep up with the Google algorithm changes to determine the best approaches. The JISC technical team gave some very useful advise and we aim to improve our use of RSS feeds and adopt a more strategic approach to social networking.

Well - back to the main site now:


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New possibilities for Virtual Analytical Laboratory

We do love our VAL and it is amazing to think the website (Virtual Analytical Laboratory) was first conceived in 2006, initially supported by internal De Montfort University funding, and then in 2009 in collaboration with the UK Centre for Bioscience as part of their UKOER Pilot Phase project.

The exciting news is now that the old girl has led to me being contacted by a European group to apply for a Euro Commission Framework 7 ICT bid. I'm sure there is a huge mountain to climb, but there are several universities across Europe developing virtual labs not just for bioscience but engineering and technology. Regardless of our sucess I hope to have made some useful contacts already.

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HALS Start Up Meeting with Bioscience Staff

On Tuesday 22nd November we had an excellent initial meeting with members of staff involved in Biosciences, including microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology. All are very enthusiastic about the idea of sourcing potential teaching materials from external partners, and as with all new projects, enlisting staff engagement can often be a time consuming starting point.

Also on board is Rob Weale as a learning technologist who has some great ideas about the design of the website to ensure maximum usability. Here are some examples of resources being discussed, and staff gave examples of bioscience OERs and links that they use already:

Parasite resources - teaching resources are currently being developed as an introduction to parasitology. Images have been supplied by the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Histology resources - a number of possibilities discussed including step-by-step introductions to stain technology to clinical case studies and diagnostic interpretations.

Immunology resources - staff have videos and materials ready to go.

So the plan of action is to evaluate resources already available from external sources, those available and ready-to-go internally and resources that will be developed from scratch.

We will employ the CORRE framework which in our last project SCOOTER I turned into a "production pipeline" incorporating all the necessary forms and paperwork to ensure the smooth flow of resources in and out. Available at:





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First Student Focus Group

Kaye in the library held the first student focus group yesterday to explore how students select and evaluate the use of OER on the web. They discussed the use of video and animation from our Virtual Analytical Laboratory (VAL, and YouTube. It was absolutely fascinating to listen to them and made me realise there is so much basic information that needs to be incorporated into the titles / credits of resources if they are going to be set free on the internet and be of value to users.

The ultimate plan is to produce a student-generated guide to finding and using OER based on the library "Information Source Evaluation Matrix". Read more about it at:

Kaye Towlson, Mike Leigh & Lucy Mathers. Information Source Evaluation Matrix. Available at:

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First BLOG!

This is the first BLOG article to officially launch our NEW and SHINY Open Education project at De Montfort University.

Staff in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences led by Dr Viv Rolfe have been awarded funding from Phase 3 of the HEFCE "Open Educational Resource" programme. This follows on from two previously successful projects, and staff are delighted to be able to continuing publishing our teaching resources to the internet for everyone to use.

In this project we will be focusing on Health and Life Science resources, hence the project title HALS OER. This will involve four undergraduate programmes - Midwifery (led by Jacqui Williams); Forensic Science (led by Dr Mark Fowler); Biomedical Science (led by Marilena Ioannou) and Medical Science (led by Dr Viv Rolfe).

We will be working with external partners to generate high quality and exciting resource, for example the Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicestershire Constabulary. We are also working with Oxford University Press to see how our resources can be used to support the science text books they publish.

That's it. And, were off!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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